(advanced) help with free radical ammonia

Pfrozen

Member
hi guys

some of you might be aware from my other posts that im going through a mini cycle. i fully planted my 10g tank yesterday but the ammonia is still rising. i was able to bring it back down to roughly 0.2ppm today but i have to ask something.

according to some calculators, my "free radical" ammonia (NH3) is negligible. even before i changed my water it looked like i had roughly 1ppm of total ammonia but the calculators show 0.005ppm NH3. My pH is an even 7.0, temperature 75 F, and I'm assuming 0 salinity but i don't know if tapwater typically comes out at 0 salinity or not. i have no way of measuring that.

anyways, my fish seem super happy and healthy with no ill effects. even my shrimp are having a blast. if i keep my total ammonia below 1ppm and the above parameters stay the same, do i need to be worried? are these calculators accurate? realistically i will be keeping it as low as possible and will be doing water changes every day. I would simply like some peace of mind if anyone here has a more advanced knowledge of water chemistry.

thanks
 

Madchild57

Member
Pfrozen said:
hi guys

some of you might be aware from my other posts that im going through a mini cycle. i fully planted my 10g tank yesterday but the ammonia is still rising. i was able to bring it back down to roughly 0.2ppm today but i have to ask something.

according to some calculators, my "free radical" ammonia (NH3) is negligible. even before i changed my water it looked like i had roughly 1ppm of total ammonia but the calculators show 0.005ppm NH3. My pH is an even 7.0, temperature 75 F, and I'm assuming 0 salinity but i don't know if tapwater typically comes out at 0 salinity or not. i have no way of measuring that.

anyways, my fish seem super happy and healthy with no ill effects. even my shrimp are having a blast. if i keep my total ammonia below 1ppm and the above parameters stay the same, do i need to be worried? are these calculators accurate? realistically i will be keeping it as low as possible and will be doing water changes every day. I would simply like some peace of mind if anyone here has a more advanced knowledge of water chemistry.

thanks
I don't have an advanced knowledge of water chemistry per se, but I do have an advanced knowledge of regular chemistry, and ammonia isn't a free radical. Free radicals in your water would be a huge unstable mess. I wouldn't trust any calculator giving you 0.005 ppm ammonia, that just seems too low to be realiably measured. I would trust an API master kit result over a calculator. There should ideally be 0 ppm ammonia in your tank if its fully cycled, but some test kits will always register 0.25-0.50 ppm.
Edit: as long as your fish are doing fine, the fish in cycle is fine, just do 50% water changes every day/every other day and that should do well.
 

Cody

Member
Madchild57 said:
I don't have an advanced knowledge of water chemistry per se, but I do have an advanced knowledge of regular chemistry, and ammonia isn't a free radical. Free radicals in your water would be a huge unstable mess. I wouldn't trust any calculator giving you 0.005 ppm ammonia, that just seems too low to be realiably measured. I would trust an API master kit result over a calculator. There should ideally be 0 ppm ammonia in your tank if its fully cycled, but some test kits will always register 0.25-0.50 ppm.
Edit: as long as your fish are doing fine, the fish in cycle is fine, just do 50% water changes every day/every other day and that should do well.
I’m not a chemistry wiz by any means. I have read before on the free vs total ammonia and I know the problems is that total ammonia can differentiate the two. Where the free or “ammonium” is not considered toxic.

I agree that it’s hard to really know your total vs free without advanced testing. But in general keep doing water changes while your going through the mini cycle and for best practice keep it under 1ppm and you should be fine. There are even charts out there explaining how ammonia toxicity is relative to your PH as well. There is so much to it that it’s not worth the stress you’re giving yourself.

Fresh water, Test, Repeat

You will be fine!
 

Madchild57

Member
Cody said:
I’m not a chemistry wiz by any means. I have read before on the free vs total ammonia and I know the problems is that total ammonia can differentiate the two. Where the free or “ammonium” is not considered toxic.

I agree that it’s hard to really know your total vs free without advanced testing. But in general keep doing water changes while your going through the mini cycle and for best practice keep it under 1ppm and you should be fine. There are even charts out there explaining how ammonia toxicity is relative to your PH as well. There is so much to it that it’s not worth the stress you’re giving yourself.

Fresh water, Test, Repeat

You will be fine!
Yeah its when ammonium becomes the NH4+ ion that its not toxic, but even then no ammonia is good ammonia. The standard test kits, like the API one, do a good enough job at measuring ammonia reliably. There's really no reason to get worried about pH vs form of ammonia, just use the API test and that'll get the job done.
 

Cody

Member
Madchild57 said:
Yeah its when ammonium becomes the NH4+ ion that its not toxic, but even then no ammonia is good ammonia. The standard test kits, like the API one, do a good enough job at measuring ammonia reliably. There's really no reason to get worried about pH vs form of ammonia, just use the API test and that'll get the job done.
Totally agree.

No reason to over think it. For better or worse people put fish through fish-in cycles unknowingly and the fish survive much worse conditions then what you’re planing to provide.
 
  • Thread Starter

Pfrozen

Member
Thanks for the help guys but I really need info on this specifically lol. 0.25ppm of ammonia will kill my bamboo shrimp. I need to verify if these calculators are correct because NH4 is harmless whereas NH3 is not. It varies widely depending on your pH and temperature. I'm dosing with prime, but what if I dose and my ammonia levels rise by 0.25 during the night? It binds the ammonia that it reacts with initially for 48 hours, yes, but it's such a multi-use conditioner that I can't reliably assume that some of the thiosulfate salts stay in the water unreacted for a full 48 hours.

I do have an associate degree in chemistry (so I know that "all ammonia is bad" already lol, no offense) but this is still beyond me. Can anyone specifically verify that my NH3 levels will for sure remain low based on my water temperature and pH?
 
Top Bottom